The creation of Rooh, pt.2

Alexandra Khobotova
8 min readApr 1, 2021

How I’ve found the face of our volunteer organization

This article is written in two languages, Ukrainian and English. The Ukrainian version is here. Please follow the language you’re more comfortable with.

Let’s refresh our memories

In the previous part, I described the process of naming — my personal experience in this field. I believe that naming processes may differ depending on what you’re actually dealing with. In this article I’m going to tell you the story of, how I call it, finding the face of the brand, which is perhaps even more important than a mere name — after all, we perceive information visually in most cases.

The beginning

So, the name is Rooh (movement in Ukrainian). This word is also a common notion in our national mentality, so it can depict not only movement itself, it represents more — willing to change the situation, freedom aspiration, our people’s power of will. As I’ve mentioned before, in the previous article, it is very Ukrainian, and the imagery must be the same.

I’ve started from my head. I ‘looked through’ everything I remembered from our culture (under the condition that it came to mind immediately, proving that the symbol is well-known and readable). Only after that, I’ve started looking through Pinterest, which, I believe, is a really cool tool for design research if you spend some time there and search thoroughly (no ad intended).

I’ve searched ‘Ukrainian culture’:

The way of embroidery

This search was very sketchy, it was just the first phase of my research. Nevertheless, it let me understand the basic elements I might use on my canvas — but not be limited by them.

As you could see, the pictures above included a lot of embroideries (and Easter eggs, though, even if it is not correct — the ornaments are quite similar). It is not only a part of the national costume, it is our cultural acquisition, an activity which Ukrainians performed for ages. I’ve studied regional embroidery types (there are, I believe, more than 25 of them, and I may be wrong and there are much more) and picked ones I loved most.

The cross-stitch, evidently, reminds us of the pixel drawings, and there’s even more truth about it: Ukrainian national embroideries, cross-stitch mostly, included codes, so that specific number of red color and black color and their combination created a pattern which other people could read and understand.

So, okay — embroidery. I wrote it down to my list of ideas.

The way of nature

Ukraine is a large European country with a mild climate and six terrestrial ecoregions, thus our nature is quite diverse.

There are a lot of wheat and sunflower fields in our country, though. These two crops became national symbols, even the Ukrainian flag, according to one of the interpretations, depicts blue sky and wheat fields.

So, — sunflower and wheat, written down.

The way of history

Then, after clicking and clicking and clicking on interesting pictures and websites, I decided that I should dive deeper into Ukrainian history. Ancient Trypillia culture, which was situated on our territory about 7000 years ago, left lots of artifacts. The numbers of symbols used by these people migrated and took root in Ukrainian culture. Their symbols looked like these and you can see that a lot of symbols are very common for humanity in general:

Right. I wrote down Trypillia symbols into my list.

What’s next?

While I was doing my research I saved pictures to my Pinterest board, I got inspired and thought a lot. Nevertheless, I didn’t want just to take a symbol and redraw it; that’s not what a good designer should do.

All along my way I’ve been doodling symbols:

That’s something. Pay attention to the trident, which is also an ancient Kyivan Rus’ symbol and modern Ukrainian coat of arms. Then I made a bigger ‘board’ of symbols that are connected with Ukrainian culture :

Later I divided them into groups, similar visually and semantically so that later several icons would create one new symbol, one logo.

Colors

Before I show you the results of my work, I need to tell you about colors. Naturally, when you create a logo you do it in black — then you can see if it looks good in its simplest form. As that stage had passed and options had been all drawn I needed to think about gamma — further style and identity would have these colors, so it was very important.

I thought about different combinations, non-conformist for my country’s habitual ones but I understood that…it wouldn’t be Ukrainian. Thus I stopped at yellow-blue (flag/nature thing) and red-black (embroidery thing) combinations.

Let’s see them all!

Again, I’ve had a lot of options but I’ve chosen four.

Option 1

The first option is geometric, modern, and uses yellow and blue — the colors of our flag.

The sign is a minimalized union of wheat, trident, and stairs symbols. Together they create the message: we, Ukrainians (here — our organization), aspire to develop our country and make it prosper.

The sign is dynamic as it uses three same shapes placed in a way that we imagine them going upward. The gradient used in the middle shape emphasizes the transition from one state to another. Pay attention that even in its smallest form (bottom right of the slide) the logo is recognizable and readable.

For each logo concept, I’ve created a ‘use case’ — slide where I show how we can use the logo and how it can grow into the real brand identity. Remember that if your logo cannot develop (or be implemented into) the system — it is a bad option and it’s better to create another one.

Our main shapes are rectangles. We can make them wider (but not narrower) and place images into them. The colors can be used as overlays for picture toning.

Option 2

This option was inspired by…can you guess what?

Right you are — Ukrainian traditional embroidery. The colors are black and red, the main shape is the square. I’ve used the gradient on the top part of the sign to add some volume.

The combination of the traditional rose pattern and the sword (and exclamation mark) creates the following meaning: we have something to say. And it will be loud. We’re valiant and powerful.

As the main shape is the square it can be used as a branding element. The number of the colors is not limited by two: a paler shade of red (pink) from the gradient can also be used.

Option 3

The warm, soft, elegant version is performed in yellow and blue colors.

If option 1 used a more lemon-ish shade of yellow, here the color is closer to orange. It represents both the petal and the seed, both lit by the sun under the blue sky.

The shape revealed even more meanings: depending on how you look at it it can resemble a speech bubble or stripes of the flag. The composition is dynamic: the shapes go up and have sharp corners.

In this use case, I’ve made a wheatear and placed pictures in them. The thing is the shapes can be put together in different ways: making a flower, for example.

Option 4

The fourth option is a combination of a shape and letters. The red color here is closer to pink and resembles poppy’s petals in the sunset.

The logo is simple yet contains several meanings. Here I decided to convey the concept of the movement itself. I’ve used the infinity sign — one of the oldest icons known to people, it was even used among the Trypillian symbols. ‘Rooh’ means ‘movement’ and the icon means infinite movement — as simple as that. Desire to change a life, to create history, to never stop.

The main shape is the circle, as the infinity sign is a combination of two, intertwined.

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What’s next?

So, you’ve seen all options. Again, we together with the team have elected the best option by voting — and the option was number four. The next step for me was to adjust it a bit and develop brand identity — the next article will be about it, so stay tuned.

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